KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the St. Louis Cardinals?
Why would I consider someone other than Albert Pujols with the No. 1 pick?
Pujols is as much of a lock as you can get in fantasy baseball. Before long, the difference he'll make may not be as great, but he provides such a large foundation in four categories and still contributes in a fifth. There's no faulting anyone for taking this once-in-a-generation talent.
| |The Machine not automatic No. 1
Hanley Ramirez presents some trifling reasons to be on alert, yet his scarce skill set makes a compelling case for No. 1. The risk or lack of upside that comes with other shortstops (besides Troy Tulowitzki, whom you won't also get) might prompt you to consider him and take your chances with a first baseman who's a tier or two below Pujols. It depends on your strategy.
How is Ryan Franklin holding up as closer?
He doesn't strike out enough batters. He's pretty hittable. As a reliever, lifetime, he has an ordinary 3.49 ERA. How is Franklin still St. Louis' saves superior? He doesn't care what his role is; he expects to get the job done. He doesn't feel additional pressure in a save situation; he finds a way. He has Tony La Russa's confidence (which means more than it does with other skippers).
Fantasy managers are right to remain doubtful about Franklin's ability to keep finding a way. Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs or even Kyle McClellan could nudge Franklin aside if the 38-year-old (come March) falters. La Russa is stubborn, however, so it'll take a long stretch of suckitude. And then, if that happens, the Cardinals may rotate or use someone else regularly. But you won't hear it from TLR's mouth. The best way to stay on top of opportunities in the Gateway City is to monitor usage.
What are the expectations for Jaime Garcia in 2011?
They may not be too high. The left-hander tossed only 37 2/3 documented frames in 2009; he made a leap to 163 1/3 innings in 2010. The Cards scaled him back quite a bit in September, tempering concern, at least. His control rate still projects to sit well above 3.00. In the second half, once opponents got a good look at him, his ERA was a more normal 3.53.
Garcia, 24, still had a tremendous first full season (13 wins, 2.70 ERA) post-TJS (in September 2008). Garcia's 55.9 percent ground-ball rate and sub-30 fly-ball rate were in accordance with his minor league track record. He also fanned more than seven per nine stanzas. If you're aware of the danger but skepticism reigns at your draft, he's worth a shot.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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